Since early morning on Tuesday 12th October over a thousand mournful purple balloons were assembled in Trafalgar Square, tentatively awaiting send-off. The International Planned Parenthood Federation, Population Control and Marie Stopes International with a few smartly dressed supporters were making ready to 'commemorate' the symbolic birth of the world's sixth billionth baby, to a Serbian woman. Clare Short, minister for International Development was due to make her honorary appearance, together with members of the press.
Little did they know that a gang of youthful dissidents were also starting to gather, to mark the same event, but as a joyful celebration. Pro-life students were busy organising streamers, whistles and party hats all round. Most of the unsuspecting tourists in the area took the event to be a good excuse for a party, the mixed message of the balloons and why exactly the population figure was such a disaster was far lost on them.
The 'population controllers' themselves seemed to have been a bit oblivious to what was going on in the world themselves. As they distributed their hard-worn rhetorical propaganda sheets, in a modern, New Labour fashion, they seemed to have failed to read any of the recent reports on the very issue they were taken to be experts on. The pro-life cohorts were thus simultaneously distributing references from The Daily Telegraph and New Scientist expending the myth of the imminent population explosion, and how real aid not coercive contraception and abortion policies were the solutions to the problems of less developed countries.
Still, even as the Minister herself arrived, the same old maxims continued to be recited - pregnancy is the number one disease in developing nations, women should be free to choose the size of their families (as long as they don't want too many!), everyone is crying out for the noble services of the pharmaceutical companies, this is the answer to hunger, disease, inequality, even death. Luckily by this time the pro-lifers present had put up adorable baby posters, and were busy chanting 'Happy Birthday' and being generally disruptive.
With her megaphone Sarah then proceeded to rebuff Clare's tired rhetoric. So annoyed was Ms Short by the group's antics that she had to refer to the disrespectful "people in hats" more than three times during her ten minute speech. She later faxed furious complaints to particular newspapers, complaining of misrepresentation of the population issue. Perhaps she should have sued The New Statesman, The New Scientist and The Daily Telegraph etc. for the unwarranted undermining of her and her affiliates' case.
We all retired later to the pub, slightly buzzing with the experience of 'bringing down' one of the Establishment. Perhaps we should gate crash further IPPF commemorative events in future, clearly it's time the general public were informed about the truth behind their policies and ideology; it's not enough that it's in reputable papers. Unintimidated by the blurb, we fight on.
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